An outbreak of bitter recrimination has erupted among politicians and delegates following the Copenhagen accord for tackling climate change.
The deal finally hammered out early on Saturday had been expected to commit countries to deep cuts in carbon emissions. In the end, it fell short. Instead a draft agreement put forward by China — and backed by Brazil, India and African nations — commits the world to the broad ambition of preventing global temperatures from rising above 2ºC. Last night some delegates openly attacked China.
Asked who was to blame for blocking the introduction of controlled emissions, the director-general of the Swedish environment protection agency, Lars-Erik Liljelund, replied: “China. China doesn’t like numbers.”
The accord was formally recognized after a dramatic all-night plenary session, during which the Danish chairman was forced to step aside, a Venezuelan delegate cut her hand and the UK’s climate and energy secretary, Ed Miliband, salvaged the deal just as it appeared on the verge of being rejected.
The tumultuous events concluded a fortnight of fraught and sometimes machiavellian negotiations that saw a resurgent China link forces with India, Brazil and African nations to thwart efforts by rich nations to steamroller through a treaty suiting their interests.
Although hailed by US President Barack Obama, the deal has been condemned by activists and NGOS, while European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he was disappointed after EU attempts to introduce long-term targets for reducing global emissions by 50 percent by 2050 were blocked.
“This accord is not legally binding, it’s a political statement. Without legally binding commitments, there is no way to be sure it will be attainable,” said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. “This is a disaster for the poor nations — the urgency of climate change was not really considered.”
Last night Miliband was being credited with helping rescue the summit from disaster. He had been preparing to go to bed at 4am, after the main accord had been agreed, only to be called by officials and warned that several countries were threatening to veto its signature. Miliband returned to the conference center in time to hear Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping comparing the proposed agreement to the Holocaust. He said the deal “asked Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries.”
A furious Miliband intervened. He dismissed Di-Aping’s claims as disgusting.
This was “a moment of profound crisis,” he told delegates. The proposed deal was by no means perfect and would have many problems, he admitted.
“But it is a document that in substantive ways will make the lives of people around this planet better because it puts into effect fast-start finance of US$30 billion, it puts into effect a plan for US$100 billion of long-term public and private finance,” he said.
The deal was then agreed by delegates.
However, the Tory shadow energy and climate change secretary, Greg Clark, described the deal last night as a disappointment.